Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury...

There is nothing like a good political debate to rekindle one's activist spirit, no?  In case you have been living underneath some kind of Prohibition-era rock for the last 24 hours, you have at least heard about the recent kerfuffle with Cigar City Brewing and the Tampa Bay City Council.  If not, there are plenty of places you can go to read up on it.

The bottom line is three members of the Tampa City Council want to stop Cigar City from having a tasting room where people can buy locally produced craft beer, drink locally produced craft beer, or have craft beer events.  Never mind that it is a local business, owned and operated by local residents.  Never mind that they employ over twenty people locally.  Never mind that they attract visitor (and their money) to the Tampa Bay area, who then in turn spend their money on restaurants, hotels, and other activities.  One would think that in these difficult economic times, the idea of a local business thriving and succeeding would be encouraged, especially if said business is following all of the rules.

But apparently that is not enough for Tampa Council Members Gwen Miller, Thomas Scott, and Curtis Stokes.  Their claim is that "the neighborhood don't want it", with "it" being the wet-zoning and extended operating hours for serving beer or wine.  They have made very vague claims that alcohol-related crime is up, but when confronted with evidence to the contrary, they defended the allegations with "well, not everything gets reported."

Sorry, in my world that does not fly.  Which certainly makes some of us wonder what this is really about.  Are these three part of the insidious neo-prohibitionist movement that often rears its ugly head in times like these?  That would mean their argument was more of a "moral" one than one based on any kind of facts.  There is some grumbling that this is payback for the Council's long and well-documented battles with owner Joey Redner's father, Joe Redner.  Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is voting against making the zoning and hours permanent is tantamount to voting to kill jobs and keep dollars away from Tampa.  It is inexcusable and Miller, Scott, and Stokes ought to be held accountable.

One of the positive things to come out of this event, however, is how the craft beer community has rallied around Cigar City.  From Wayne Wamble's initial post on Facebook, the cry went out far and wide and craft beer lovers from all walks of life answered the call.  Letters, emails, and articles spread like wildfire.  A new Twitter hashtag was created (#SaveCCB), and a Facebook group was set up by DosBeerigos.  I have said before and I will say it again: Beer People R Good People.

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